Sports fans could return to watch matches in person by the time the Six Nations championship is underway in the early new year.
The Government and other EU ministers are discussing ways to bring supporters back to games, after a year where most events have taken place behind closed doors.
It won’t happen in time for the All-Ireland finals, but it's hoped GAA, football and rugby fans will all be able to attend games starting in early 2021.
Minister of State Jack Chambers met with other European sports ministers yesterday to discuss the return of fans to stadiums.
He told Newstalk Breakfast the discussions were constructive, and all countries are eager to ensure matches can be played with spectators again.
He observed: "I think every European country is anxious that we move beyond having fans behind closed doors, and do that in a really planned way.
"In an Irish context... since the autumn and publication of the Living with COVID roadmap... we've looked at international best practice on how we can have the planned return of fans at sporting events at levels one and two, at large purpose-built stadia.
"My hope as minister would be in the early part of the new year - obviously being hopeful that we're in a public health context at either levels one or two - that we can see some test events.
"Hopefully many of our fans - who are a key part of our sporting culture - can potentially return to games."
While early new year rules out the approaching All-Ireland finals, the junior minister said Six Nations matches are a "definite possibility".
He said: "The IRFU have been involved in [our] working group. In the first instance, we'll have a percentage of fans... they'll probably run six or eight trials, with specific controls in place.
"I'm hopeful we can see some of our sporting fixtures in the spring - whether it's GAA, football or rugby - where we'd be able to have fans back at games."
He noted that the spectating experience during those early trials will be 'different' for fans, as there'll be specific measures in place to make sure the likes of entering and exiting the stadium are handled safely.
However, he said he hopes the public health situation in 2021 will offer a 'pathway back to normality' for sporting fans.
Although a return to large crowds is likely dependent on a widespread COVID vaccination programme, the trial events will likely see smaller groups of fans return to stadiums.
Both level one and two of the 'Living with COVID' plan allow for spectators to attend games, with level one allowing for 'specific guidance' for very large venues.